Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. This is Zikoko’s What She Said.
Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their takes on everything from sex to politics right here.
There are quite a number of birth control options for women in the world today. From IUDs to the pill, to patches, in theory, there’s something for every kind of woman. This week we speak with a woman who has seen them all and tried them all and only has one thing to say, “It ruined my life.”
What was your first experience with birth control like?
I’m not sure if it counts, but I think it does. My very first experience was when I was 18. I had been sexually active for a couple of months then, and I had stupidly had sex with some boy without a condom, because of love. Okay, not completely because of that, I also don’t like them. Anyway, I got scared shitless about getting pregnant and bought postinor. That year buying postinor was so taboo, it’s not like now that everyone is a feminist and no one gives a shit. If the streets found out you bought postinor, the reaction was almost as bad as if they found out you had an abortion.
Why don’t you like condoms?
Because I don’t have sense. No long story. I don’t like the way they feel, and sex is just better without them. Shey, they said, “Whatever is what doing is what doing well?” (Laughs) Seriously though, I know it’s stupid, but I actually wasn’t having a lot of casual sex. I had a long term on and off partner for a while and after him, I started dating my current husband.
You know birth control doesn’t prevent STIs and STDs?
See I know. I know it’s by pure dumb luck that I haven’t contracted some kind of incurable STD, I’ve never even had an STI. I think I’ve only had a yeast infection once. But I also think if you are in a loving and committed relationship where you trust each other, then it’s fine to do without condoms. But I also know that’s rare, and in the end, men will always disgrace you. Every time I met a new guy I used to tell myself that ok, you are a responsible adult you have to use condoms now and I’d do so for the first few times we had sex. Then convince myself that we are in love and that he’s the one and I don’t need them. I’m kuku married now, so that’s the end of that.
What came after Postinor?
After that, I started seeing someone somewhat seriously and we were using the pulling out method for some time. Then he started lying to me. He’d say he pulled out when he didn’t and it was such a stupid lie because I’d be like pulled out where? There’s no cum on the bed or on my body. Or sometimes he’d say that he didn’t even cum when I could literally see him cuming. That should have been my first sign to end that relationship. After taking Postinor one too many times, I decided to find something more permanent. So I talked to a friend who told me about a shot she used to take every three months and she was good. I followed her to her doctor and got the shot. By the time I was going for my fourth shot — 9 months in — I had gone from a size 6 to a size 12.
Why did you continue?
It didn’t really occur to me that it was the shot at first. I had lost my dad before I got on it and that was a generally stressful period of my life. So I thought it was the stress. It wasn’t until a friend said, “Is it Postinor that’s making you fat like this?” — I’m no longer friends with the bitch by the way — that it clicked. She was wrong about it being Postinor, but I was on the shot. So I stopped taking it after a year.
What came next?
I was still in a relationship with “Mr I Can’t Pull Out”. That was his final stance on the matter after I kept confronting him about his lies. He said he just didn’t know how to pull out. So we went back to condoms and our sex life tanked. He was complaining, I was complaining and I really wasn’t enjoying the sex. So I decided to go to a women’s clinic and actually talk to a doctor which I hadn’t done before the shot. I had just followed a friend to a clinic and asked for it and they gave it to me. She gave me two options and IUD or the pill. The IUD was non-hormonal so I thought that would be a good idea, it was not.
I’m one of those lucky women who never gets cramps during her period. Even when I was a teenager. My first period with the IUD and I got cramps so bad I almost passed out because of the pain once. I stuck with it for 6 months until I couldn’t handle it anymore. I used to dread my period. Like the week before it came, I’d be so depressed, and even during the period I was getting cramps so bad, I wasn’t able to go to work on some days. I had to take it out it just wasn’t worth it.
Where you still in a relationship at this point?
Ironically, a month after getting it, I broke up with the stupid boy. I didn’t find out he was cheating or anything dramatic like that. I was just tired of dealing with his stupidity. After taking the IUD out, I wasn’t on anything for a year, I also wasn’t really seeing anyone so there was no need to.
What came next?
I met my husband. Obviously, he was still boyfriend back then. Three months into our relationship, I decided to try the pill. When I got my IUD that was the only other thing the doctor recommended. My first problem with the pill was that I wasn’t very disciplined. With the pill, you are supposed to take it at the same time every day and you can’t miss any day. Anytime I missed a day or took it late I’d have a full-blown panic attack. I eventually just stopped because I thought that if I continued with the way I was taking it, I’d get pregnant. I was also breaking out like crazy. I had the kind of skin you’d use for a facial cleanser ad before I got on the pill. And even now, after I stopping, my face hasn’t gotten back to that.
Was that the end of it?
(Laughs) I wish. So I didn’t get off the pill until I found an alternative. And the alternative was to get back on the shots. So I had another friend who was on it who assured me the one I was taking that year wasn’t the same one she was on. It was working for her and she wasn’t gaining any weight. Once again because I don’t have any sense, I got on it without consulting a doctor.
Did you start putting on weight again?
Oh yes, I did, but only because I got pregnant.
My sister, you know how they say birth control is only 99% safe? It never really occurred to me that I could actually carry belle while on it. I was still in school, in my final year and my mother wasn’t having it. The parents of my boyfriend weren’t having it either; as far as they were concerned, there was only one solution: marriage. It was the worst period of my life. They insisted we got married before I had the baby, but I was clearly pregnant and they couldn’t even keep the wedding small. They still invited family and friends to come and celebrate with me while judging me for getting pregnant out of wedlock. All the congratulations came with looks of pity in their eyes. I hated it, hated myself and hated my husband for a very long time. It’s very funny how in all of it even though I regretted the circumstances that led to me getting my baby girl, I only have love for her. I love kids and I actually had a pretty easy pregnancy.
And how do you feel about being married now?
It’s just there. He’s a good guy and we are actually friends. I’d be lying if I said we were in love because we are not. But I could have done worse than him, so I don’t mind. It’s not like there are any better men in the world. Have you met Nigerian men?
Would you ever get back on birth control?
Even though it ruined my life, I’m back on the pill. And luckily I’m not breaking out anymore. I’m not ready to have any more kids and I don’t want to risk it.
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